Online Drum Lessons

Drum Cover – Rush, “Losing It”

by Omar on October 2, 2012

in drum cover, Education

Some of my drum covers are just of songs that I like. Some have a story behind them as well. Some go even beyond that. Well, this one's a doozie.

Since Rush's Clockwork Angels was going to be on display on their next tour, I decided that I would cover another song from it (the first, of course, being "Headlong Flight"). So I started preparing myself as I usually do, trying to convince myself that I can actually do it, then hear it a million times.

But during the summer, a major distraction caused me to change course. Someone very dear to me became very ill, and pretty much everything revolved around trying to make her better. Alas, it was not to be, and my sister-in-law lost her battle with cancer. Very sad, sad times indeed.

Well, a little time went by and things started to settle down a bit. The idea came to me that I could do some sort of tribute to her, and the first song that came to my mind was "Losing It" by Rush. It is such a hauntingly beautiful song, a sorrowful dirge mourning the loss of one's abilities over time. That certainly happens when cancer takes over, unfortunately to the point of loss of life.

I thought I could record a drum cover, and include a montage of photos of my sister-in-law's life. I decided that the video would be a Facebook exclusive, so I posted it on my personal page. It's also been posted on The Paradiddler Facebook fan page, so all can see how special she was.

Even though I always accompany a drum cover with an article, because of the nature of this one I decided not to do it this time. So instead, I made another version of the video that's more 'article' friendly. But even this version has turned more into a cause than anything else.

But more on that later! Let's talk a little about the making of this drum cover.

"Losing It" - Recording and Production

As always, I never play and record thinking of the final result. I always concentrate on trying to play the best I can, and worry about editing later. Because, in reality, the drumming is always the most important part.

I got valuable feedback on my "Headlong Flight" cover regarding the bass drum. One viewer said that the bass drum was not standing out enough in the mix. I figured the Zoom H2 recorder was too far from the bass drum, so I moved it closer (about two feet away, maybe less). I think it made a world of difference - the bass drum is much more pronounced this time.

As far as the actual recording itself, as mentioned, I used the Zoom H2 recorder for the drums. Before every take, I set the video camera and the H2 to record, and mentioned the date, time and song aloud. This served as a marker, so if I thought the take was good, I would use the audio of the drumming to mix with the mp3 of the song.

Of all the takes, two stood out, so I brought each one into Audacity, and mixed them with the mp3 separately, to create two versions of a final audio mix. I picked what I thought was the best sounding and most accurate take. This time I made a conscious decision to base the final video on the accuracy of the sound of the drumming, and not on how 'good' it looked.

So in CyberLink PowerDirector, I brought in the video of the now approved take, and the approved audio mix, and synchronized the two. Now all I had to do was mute the audio in the video, and voilà! Great audio and video. I've found that it is much easier to sync the muted video to the mixed audio of the drumming and mp3 of the song, than to try and sync the video with the audio of the drumming and the mp3 separately. I'll be doing it this way for the foreseeable future.

I wanted to keep the video simple this time, with nothing too special, focusing more on the drumming than on effects. But I captured a couple angles at particular drum parts that benefited from a different view, so I included those.

But there's more to this story...

A Request (ok, a plea) to Rush

Touring bands these days cannot keep their set list secret for very long. Once the first show is complete, their set list is published on fan sites all over the place, and even videos of the concert, whether the band likes it or no. Rush is certainly no exception, and on web sites like Power Windows - A Tribute to Rush, the set list was listed right from the first night.

Anyway, fans are always requesting certain songs to be played, and depending on what 'era' of Rush you became a fan, that most likely will determine your preferences. I am no exception, as I've made my case for certain songs, both in an article ("The Paradiddler's Wish List for Rush's Next Tour", published April 4, 2010) and as a drum cover ("Double Agent"). I was very happy to see that a couple of my requests will be fulfilled: "Territories", and "Where's My Thing?" ("The Camera Eye" was another of my requests, which was played on the Time Machine tour, including the rest of Moving Pictures).

I was very happy to learn that Rush would be touring with a string ensemble, the first time they played on stage with other musicians. Clockwork Angels is very 'string' heavy, so this move was absolutely appropriate. But this excited me for another reason. I thought that, finally, Rush could play "Losing It" live. To me, this is one of Rush's most beautiful songs, and it absolutely stands the test of time. I think that even if the band ever wanted to play it live, triggering the complex violin-playing would just be too much to replicate. But now they would be touring with a string ensemble, so before the tour started and before anyone knew what the set list would be, I figured that the time had come for this song to shine.

I eagerly anticipated the first show so as to know what the set list would be. But after the show was over, I discovered that "Losing It" was not included. I've never been disappointed by Rush's choice of set list, even if they didn't play a song I would have liked to see. I have to admit, however, that I was more than a little disappointed with the exclusion of "Losing It". For some reason, I was so sure they would play this song, since now we had the strings in play. I can only speculate as to why this song again was not included:

  • Violin part too complex
  • Too many other songs Rush wanted to play
  • Rush just plain forgot about it

But is there still hope, even after the tour is well under way (as of this writing), even with alternating set lists?

Back on September 16th (2012), The Detroit Free Press posed some questions to Alex Lifeson, and one in particular related to the set list being in flux, just to keep it fresh every night. But one particular thing caught my eye from what Alex said regarding alternating set lists:

"We don't usually do this type of thing, so we may get back in our usual groove. I'd be an advocate for some other stuff, songs we didn't prepare perhaps."

"Songs we didn't prepare perhaps"? I wonder what this means. I think Rush always tries to find ways to keep their playing fresh throughout a tour, and introducing a new song midway through would definitely be changing things up a lot. I'm not sure that they've ever done that before, so I'm going to suggest it to them - introduce "Losing It" to the set! They have the strings, and to me it's one of the most beautiful songs they've ever done.

Of course, this would involve actually rehearsing the song, with the string ensemble, during the course of the tour. So I realize this a long shot at best. But I'm just throwing it out there.

In any case, to me this song has stood the test of time, but now also for me it has taken on new significance - it will always remind me of a very special person, every time I hear it. So even if Rush never plays it live, it will always bring back beautiful memories.

We shall drum on.

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